Why is Ina Garten so good at everything? Seriously, I realize she’s had decades of gourmet cooking experience but how does she always manage to combine five or six simple ingredients and create a dish that’s beyond-comprehension delicious? My money is on some kind of deal with the Illuminati but hey, what do I know?
I own every single one of Barefoot’s cookbooks (she even signed one for me!) and they’re the only actual paper books I reference for recipes regularly. When I needed a quick, tasty appetizer last weekend I decided to finally try these Puff Pastry Cheese Curls. They were so good I made them again two days later. And so good the second time I made them again three days after that for a wedding shower. They were gone before I could even get a picture at the shower.
What I love about Ina’s recipes is that they’re less about combining tons of nutty flavors and more about simple, classic techniques using quality, reliable ingredients. They’re recipes you can count on, and once you’ve made them a couple times you can make up your own variations with confidence. She’s wise like that.
If anyone thinks it’s legally possible to reverse-adopt a grandmother, let me know.
PUFF PASTRY CHEESE CURLS
courtesy of Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris”
original recipe: Cheese Straws, pg. 30
Makes about 28 large straws
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the fridge
1 large egg
1 tsp. water
1.5 cups shredded cheese like Parmesan, Gruyere, Swiss, or a combo
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
all-purpose flour for sprinkling
optional: cream or butter for brushing
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle flour on your rolling surface. Take out the first sheet of puff pastry (leave the other in the refrigerator.) Roll it out until it’s a little thinner and larger, about 12″x12″. Beat the egg with the water and use a brush to spread the egg mixture over the puff pastry, all the way to the edges.
***Make sure to flour the board well so the pastry won’t stick. If the pastry is too cold it’s best to wait a few more minutes until it’s pliable. If that’s not possible, microwave it for only 8 seconds at a time just until you can move it – you want it as cold as it can be when it goes in the oven.
2. Sprinkle half the cheese and half the thyme evenly over the puff pastry sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Using the rolling pin, roll over the pastry once or twice to embed the ingredients. Using a pizza cutter (or a large knife) cut the pastry into about 12 strips, long ways. Each strip should be about 1/2 – 3/4″ thick. One at a time, place a strip on the parchment paper and, grabbing the middle with both hands, twist in opposite directions to create a “curl.” After the first few this will get easier. Keep the strips at least 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet and brush with cream or butter to encourage browning.
3. Bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating the pans once. They’re ready when the puff pastry is puffed and brown on top – cool on a wire rack. While the puff pastry bakes, take the second sheet out of the refrigerator and make the second batch.
I’ve found I actually like to cut the long strips in half before I put them on the baking sheet so each cheese curls turns out about 4-5 inches long. They’re daintier and actually pretty elegant…and women don’t feel as self conscious eating them that way, for some reason. Feel free to play around with the cheeses and herbs here. This is one of those recipes you can make your own and use for years to come.